Charles D. “Charlie” Burks

Last Updated on June 21, 2017 by cassnetwork

Charles D. “Charlie” Burks, 95, of Logansport, passed away at 2:17 p.m. Monday, June 19, 2017, in St. Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis following complications from a broken hip.

Born January 19, 1922 in Monon, Indiana. He was the son of the late Elmer and Estella Fulmer Burks.

On August 16, 1945 in Bisbee, Arizona he married Betty (Smith) Burks, who survives.

In 1940,along with Betty’s brother, Charlie joined the U.S. Army Air Corps . He served as a B-17 bomber pilot in Europe. He was a Second Lieutenant in the Army during World War II when his plane was shot down in 1944 over Brussels, Belgium. Charles always said he made one more take off than landing. He was captured by the Nazis while serving in Germany, and was sent to Stalag Luft 3near Sagan, Germany where 6,667 other American POWs were held. Charles was imprisoned for at least 381 days. He escaped in February 1945 with two other pilots. It took them 37 days to get back to the American lines. The three pilots had very little contact with civilians in Germany, but would stop at farm houses to get food.  The three pilots lived on potatoes that farmers had left in the fields and covered with straw. Charlie recalled in an interview once, “There were times we didn’t eat for several days. I love potatoes, they saved my life.”

After the war, Charlie worked with the Logansport Police Department for five years before becoming a U.S. Marshal. He worked in various places including northern Indiana and eastern Illinois. He was later assigned to the U.S. Marshals office in New Orleans where the family lived for 15 years.. It was during the height of the Civil Rights movement in 1960 when Charlie was one of several U.S. Marshals who escorted Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend the previously segregated William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana.  This image was immortalized in the famous Norman Rockwell painting, “The Problem We All Live With.” Charlie also participated in the integrations of the University of Mississippi and universities in both Alabama and Georgia.

In 2008, Charlie was presented with the “Spirit of Justice” award – the highest honor given by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. In 2013, Ruby Bridges was reunited with Charlie at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, which was filming the pair for its permanent exhibit called “The Power of Children.”

In 1988, after 20 years of service, Charlie retired from his law enforcement career and returned to Logansport.

Charles was a member of Calvary Presbyterian Church. He was also a member of the American Legion Post 60, U.S. Marshals Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3790.  In  In 2013, Charlie served as the Grand Marshal of the Cass County Veterans Day parade.

Surviving with his wife, Betty, of 71 years, are two sons, Dan (Beth) Burks and Robert (Judy) Burks; seven grandchildren, Bob (Libby) Burks Jr., Jeff (Maggie) Burks, and Rick (Noel) Burks, Tim Burks, Tina Burks, Carrie (George) Cermak and Mary Beth Auxier; and ten great-grandchildren, Noah, Ethan, Logan, Deacon, Michael and Mandie Burks, Nina and Emma Richards, Aria Auxier, and Katie Cermak.

He was preceded in death by seven sisters: Jessie Fulmer, Josephine Robinson, Ethel Rieken, Louise Smith, Margaret Kistler, Mary Todd and Gladys Todd and one brother Bill Burks.

A funeral service celebrating the life of Charles Burks will be held at 10:00 a.m. Friday, June 23 in Calvary Presbyterian Church with Rev. Coenraad Brand.

Burial, with full military honors, will be in Ever-Rest Memorial Park.

Friends will be received from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 22 in Fisher Funeral Chapel.

Memorial contributions may be made to American Legion “Operation Comfort Warriors”.

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